Field trip to TN distilleries

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Field trip to TN distilleries

Postby HighSpirits » Tue Jul 10, 2018 8:58 pm

Hi all, I just wanted to share a trip I just got back from, my girlfriend and I went to TN to tour and taste a couple of the local whiskeys around TN.

My favorite (to my surprise) was Chattanooga. The tour was comprehensive and professional (though I was disappointed they only showed their 'r&d room' and not their actual production facility) and every employee I spoke with there whether it was behind the bar or wielding a paddle was passionate about the job and really knew what they were talking about. I was really curious and asked many specific questions that they were able to answer quickly and accurately which made the experience feel so much better. The selection they had for tasting was decent, though I learned that their first two releases were private labeled and not made in-house which made it less special to me, but I tried their in-house single malt (I think it was 008?) and really enjoyed it. This is also probably where I fell in love with my girlfriend, who was able to pick out the chocolate and coffee specialty malts in the mash bill (how'd I get so lucky?). Overall I'd give a 9/10 only because I wanted to see the production house so badly and didn't expect to only see the smaller room. I enjoyed the staff and the environment so much that I (tipsily) told my girlfriend I'd happily quit my job to work for them. For some context, I love my current job...

In between were the average visits, Dickel and Daniels (Daniels had an amazing grounds area).

My least favorite (also to my surprise), and I have to give a disclaimer here because I know the owner is an active contributor on HD, and I respect his attitude and involvement in the community and his passion for experiment which I share, was Corsair in Nashville. I've loved the 'lets try it out!' attitude of the brand and was really excited to visit an experimental distillery, but the staff who were present gave a lot of misinformation on the tour (including saying THREE TIMES that the heads cuts will make you go blind, obviously confusing them with fores and perpetuating this fear-mongering stereotype we all fight so hard to correct). She also said they use 'distillers yeast' and that the higher the ABV of the wash the better the flavor (which we all know to be incorrect). On top of that, I found out that they do all their aging in 15 gal barrels and turn them around within 9 months - when I asked, the response was 'its all about getting the product to market'. I gave it a pass thinking hey if it tastes good then thats smart! But we went to the tasting room and to be honest I disliked every single bottle they opened. Very sharp, lots of heads on the tongue and very tannic with little of that mellow vanillin taste that comes with age. I know most distillers don't make a true heads cut like many of us on HD do (economics plus for feeding the angels) but I think what went wrong was that with no heads cut and limited aging time, the angels didn't have a chance to remove the more volatile compounds leaving it tasting 'young' and sharp. Overall I'd probably give the tour and tasting a 3/10 for lack of knowledge, misinformation and unsavory flavors.

These are just my opinions of course, there were people on the tour who genuinely enjoyed the tastes, and I know a few out home who like the taste of heads... but my gf and I both did not. And I have to say Corsair has a solid branding and marketing strategy with the whole 'punk rock' thing. Whenever the tour guide didn't know the answer to one of my questions the go-to response would be 'we're just weird here, we do things differently'. I appreciate that.... but, I'm a scientist and I like to know why :)

Anyone have experience with either of these brands? Would you agree or disagree? Happy to hear counter thoughts on both! I was shocked with my experience and hope I just hit them on an off-day or something.
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Re: Field trip to TN distilleries

Postby Yonder » Tue Jul 10, 2018 9:50 pm

Thanks for an excellent overview and honest appraisal. Good to see craftsmen having a look at the 'pros' and lettin the rest of us know. Love ta see more like it.
Double, Double, toil and trouble. Fire Burn and pot still bubble.
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Re: Field trip to TN distilleries

Postby fizzix » Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:38 pm

Well done. Feel like I went with you as the 3rd wheel.
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